(This article was first published in May 2006 Metta Center email newsletter.)
Joy, I think, comes in two flavors: the euphoric feeling (Hurray! Amazing! Yes! Hallelujah!) and the easy-and-happy feeling (Ain’t life good? Ahh, bliss, life is sweet!) Both flavors are delicious.
How do you get to joy, and how do you maintain it?
There are many paths to joy, as many as the grains of sand. Recall the various times you felt happy, and at ease. Was there any one formula for your happiness? Or were they varied, and in that variation, you felt alive and happy? What is “joy” to you?
Perhaps your joys come in predictable patterns: you love nature, flowers, clouds, winds, water, music, birds, etc. So, by allowing yourself to experience and notice these wonders as much as possible, you feel joyous. Some of your joys may not be so predictable. They might come from your allowing your self to grow in your awareness, to bring healing to yourself, to explore life, to have adventures, to rest, to listen and connect deeply with your loved ones, to feel well in your body, to do well in your practice of gentleness and patience, to learn new things, to be deeply connected with life, and so forth and so on.
A lot of my joy comes from me listening to my heart, and connecting to my spirit and my family. I love that feeling of well-being, that all is love, that I am love and love is all there is. What a wonderful and sweet feeling it is to connect with the energy of love! (I can see why children crave candy, they somehow must remember the sweetness that their spirit is and are attempting to connect to that vibration again.)
When I get too focused on my to-do-list, and forget to pay attention to what brings me joy in my life (yes, I do that, too), I notice that my joy-meter drops. My body, loyal friend it is, brings me the awareness that something is amiss in my life. I will feel “off” or “anxious”. I will feel this tightness in my chest as an alarm that I am in stress mode, and not in joy mode. I will take the cue to stop what I am doing, and take the time to re-prioritize what is really important to me.
My body sensations and my feelings are my “wake-up” calls to align myself, deliberately, with the vibration of joy and with feeling good. This is where my personal power comes in play: exercising my choice to feel better by choosing my own thoughts and directing my life.
For example, yesterday I was feeling really miserable after eating something that didn’t agree with me. I started thinking, what would the Dalai Lama focus on if he were feeling miserable? In a split second, I found myself noticing how lovely the sunlight interplayed with the shadows on the leaves of the trees. I was lost in the scene, for maybe two minutes. I felt really happy being there. I felt connected to the softness and gentleness that I witnessed, and I felt all soft and gentle in my being. When I woke up from my reverie, I felt really good. No more tummy troubles.
Another way I return to joy, after becoming aware that I am out of joy (either through being aware of my body sensations or feelings), is by using different energy therapy tools and other practices. I use EFT, Reiki, Angel Healing, meditation, self-inquiry process, and whatever else that feels right at the moment to help me raise my vibration to feeling good, feeling joyful again. Often, energy healing is all that I need to shift my energy and get back to joy. Sometimes, I need to inquire within and take different actions.
If you make the decision to be joyful, then the more time you focus on joy, the more of it you will feel and the more of it you will attract. Each moment you are out of joy calls for a different response from you and this is an opportunity for you to practice what you know to align yourself again with joy. The good news is: your heart knows how to guide you to fulfill your intentions to be joyous. And as you grow in your awareness, your level of joy increases as well. Your capacity to experience joy grows.
Wishing you incredible happiness and well-being!